Tuesday, 07 June 2011 15:39

New Orleans Saints NFL Lockout Workouts With Brees, Vilma Could Pay

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NFL Lockout The Saints are the team taking the most advantage from the lockout than any other team. The Saints are winning by a landslide.

Drew Brees and Jonathan Vilma are leading the play-organized workouts at Tulane. These veterans are like coaches on the field.


"Players around the league look at the lockout differently," Vilma told CBSSports.com. "Some of the players see the lockout as a time to relax, a time to heal from serious injury. Some see it as a time to party. We're definitely not in that last category.

"I feel pretty comfortable saying that almost every player on the Saints is in terrific shape. We could take the practice field tomorrow in full pads and be fine. This group of guys is in better shape than we were at this time of the year when we won the Super Bowl."

There can be reasonable debate regarding the value of the players-only workouts around the league. Some of the players are concerned about getting injured without insurance and contracts with their teams.

"We're more committed than the other teams," said Vilma. "Anyone who watches us can see that. There's a lot of trust in each other and the system. I've been in the defensive system for three year and Drew has been in the offensive system for five years."
Staying in top shape during the lockout won't win a Super Bowl, but they can't be stressed enough, and that's why lockout workouts are one of the most important stories in the league right now. The teams that stay the most unified and don't gain the beer bellies will have a major lead on teams who have waist expansions and endurance shrinks.

"We're more committed than other teams," Vilma said again. The Pro Bowl middle linebacker is participating in a promotion that allows four fans to work out with Saints players at Tulane. The proceeds go to various Louisiana charities. The fans can buy $2 tickets online through Friday and the winners will be announced on June 15. Five $2 tickets must be purchased.

The team had this promotion recently and it went so well the players decided to do another one.

Because the Saints system is stable, Vilma and Brees can work on their schemes during the lockout workouts. Players with new coaches and playbooks to learn can't get the in the same kind of work.

We’ll just have to wait and see if these practices in the long run actually help or hurt the Saints this year, should a season become a reality.

Tommy Myers (1972-1981) is the top safety in the history of the Saints because he was clearly the best player on the team at a time the Saints possessed a horrendous defense. "Tommy was a great player," said Archie Manning. "He would have been a multi-time Pro Bowler if he would have played on better teams."

Picked in the third round of the 1972 draft out of Syracuse, Myers intercepted at least one pass in each of the seasons he played in New Orleans. He had his best season in 1979 when he helped  the Saints to their first non-losing season in team history. That year, he intercepted seven passes and made the Pro Bowl. He has 30 interceptions as a Saint and is a member of the Saints Hall of Fame.

I'm rating Darren Sharper (2009-Present) as the No. 2 safety in Saints history although he has played only one full season here.  But what a season. In 2009 the future Hall of Famer had one the greatest seasons for a safety in NFL history. After just intercepting one pass in 2008, most NFL teams thought Sharper's best days were behind  him, but the Saints took a chance and signed the free agent

During the Saints' Super Bowl season, Sharper intercepted nine passes and returned three for touchdowns. Most impressive were his 376 interception return yards, which sat an NFL record. That season Sharper made the Pro Bowl and All-Pro. Sharper's 35 now and wants to play one more season.

I'm putting Sammy Knight (1997-2002) in the No. 3 spot on the Saints' all-time safety list. When Sammy left USC. most teams thought the was too slow to play safety in the NFL. So in 1997, he signed with the Saints as an undrafted free agent. Not only did he make the team, but he also became a starter. As a Saint, Knight intercepted 28 passes which ranks third in team history, Also, Knight returned four intercessions for touchdowns, best in Saints history. In 2000, Knight helped the Saints win their first division and was named to the  Pro Bowl. He recently was voted into the Saints Hall of Fame.

Brett Maxie (1985-1993) is my choice for the No. 4 safety spot. When he left Texas Southern, he was passed over by every team in the draft. However, he made the Saints roster in 1985, Finally, after playing mostly as a reserve in his first two years in the NFL, Maxie switched to strong safety later in his career. During his nine years in New Orleans, he intercepted 15 passes, which ranks him eighth in Saints history.

The No. 5 spot belongs to Gene Atkins (1987-1993), but Malcolm Jenkins is hot on his heels. Atkins was the other safety during Maxie's tenure. Like Maxie, Atkins did not get much attention from NFL scouts. In fact, Atkins fell all the way to the seventh round in the draft where he was selected by the Saints out of Florida A&M. in 1987. In 1991, Atkins led the NFL with 198 yards off interceptions. In just seven seasons with the Saints, he intercepted 21 passes, which is fourth in Saints history.

2010 Season Safeties_________________________________________
No.    Name                 Ht.     Wt.    Age     Yrs.     School
37    Matt Giordano     5-11  207    28        7     California
41    Roman Harper    6-1    209    28        6     Alabama
27    Malcolm Jenkins 6-0    204    23        3     Ohio State
31    Pierson Prioleau 5-11  188    33        13   Va. Tech
39    Chris Reis           6-1    215    27        5     Ga, Tech
42    Darren Sharper   6-2    210    35        15   Wm. & Mary
28    Usama Young      6-0    200    26        5     Kent State

Malcolm Jenkins Factoids:

* Earned AP second-tem All-Pro honors in his first year at safety in 2010.
* Earned the "GMC Never Say Never Moment of the Week" honor (Week 12) after Re stripped Cowboys' Roy Williams of he ball at the Saints 11 with just more than three minutes left, to give New Orleans the ball back for the game-winning drive.
* He was named NFC Defensive Player of the Week twice in three weeks following Weeks 12 and 14, the most weekly conference honors by a Saints defender in a season since 2001.
*His second-quarter 96-yard interception return for a TD against St. Louis on Dec, 12 was the fourth-longest return in club record books.

Roman Harper Factoids:

* He has started all 67 games he has appeared in at strong safety.
* He has averaged almost 7 tackles per contest.
* He was voted to the Pro Bowl for the second consecutive year in 2010, making him the only Saints safety with two all-star game selections.
* He departed Alabama ranked sixth in school history with 302 tackles (189 solo).
* As a junior at Alabama, he moved from strong to free safety and was voted second-team All-SEC with 77 tackles (45 solo), 3 interceptions, 2 fumble recoveries, a forced fumble and a sack.

by Ed Staton

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